• This Week on Hashtag Boycotts

    Bharathy Singaravel

    March 20, 2019

    Image Courtesy: Dailyhunt

    Stand-up comedian Hasan Minhaj does a weekly round-up of global news in politics and culture in his Netflix comedy series Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj. Right-wing internet trolls have decided to #BoycottNetflix, following the latest episode that is on the Indian Elections and has accomplished the too easy task of upsetting them. The hashtag is currently hovering at a steady 400+ uses. Within the scale that hashtag battles are usually fought, this may amount to a minor footnote in the routine of social media warfare.

    The episode itself is an introduction for mainly the US audience, unfamiliar with a parliamentary form of democracy and India’s politics. Minhaj covers the post-Pulwama Indo-Pak escalation, Modi, Hindutva, Rahul Gandhi, Congress scams, and even a sound-bite from Congress MP for Trivandrum, Shashi Tharoor. It is equal opportunity ridicule of some of the major elements that will come into play in the 2019 Polls in India. He even factored in the tedious display of outrage and offence by adding in lines about the hostility an American-Indian comedian with a “name that rings a bell that you’re a terrorist” is going to generate.

    Last week, #BoycottSurfExcel was trending on Twitter because Unilever released an ad set in the backdrop of Holi celebrations showing a Hindu and a Muslim child being amicable with each other. Suddenly the billion dollar conglomerate was an advocator for "Love Jihad". The one with the massive lack of irony may indeed be the call to #BoycottTwitter, on … Twitter. This week, the ever swelling ranks of the vigorously outraged want to boycott Netflix. So far the supposed boycott is making neither a dent on Netflix nor on Hasan Minhaj. Perhaps by the end of Holi week or the next, something or someone else might do/say/write/sing/post/breathe “offence” and there will be another entity that will need boycotting. For now, the "Indian Elections" episode of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj is available on the series’ YouTube channel for those who don’t have a Netflix subscription.


    Bharathy is a member of the editorial collective of the Indian Writers' Forum.

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